Kurt R. Stalma
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The last Monday in May is when people across the U.S. honor and remember those who died serving their country.
New Castle veterans and citizens alike gathered at the Lawrence County Courthouse Memorial yesterday morning to pay tribute to all those who have given their lives so that others may be free.
The ceremony was led by Bob Walters, commander of the Lawrence County Veterans Council.
Ruth Fairchild, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Pennsylvania, spoke to the many people who lined the sidewalks of East Washington Street.
“Thank you for being here on this important occasion,” Fairchild said. “We gather today in honor of the brave heroes of our country, who made the ultimate sacrifice”.
Fairchild is a New Castle native who joined the army in 1982 as an operating room technician. She has held several command posts for the VFW, beginning in 2000.
She spoke of the importance of Memorial Day, especially within Pennsylvania, because the Pennsylvania National Guard has been the most deployed state guard during the war on terror. There are still 1,500 members of the state National Guard serving in the Middle East.
“Speaking back in my hometown of New Castle was a great honor for me,” she said. “It meant everything in the world to me to be able to honor our heroes that have fallen, right here in my hometown”.
Joy Rodgers Croach, also a New Castle native, followed Fairchild’s speech by singing God Bless America. Croach’s grandfather was a war veteran, and in a way, was also responsible for Joy’s performance.
“My grandpa had always asked me to do it since I was 13, so I always hold that in my heart,” Croach said.
The march through downtown to Kennedy Square was led by Bud McCracken of the U.S. Military Veterans Motorcycle Club, and included members of VFW Post 315, the Marine Core League and the Army Reserve National Guard, among many others.
The New Castle High School band followed the many veterans as they marched through town.
The march stopped briefly as the ceremonial wreath was tossed over the bridge into the water, before continuing downtown, where a flag was raised to half staff in honor of all the brave men and women who lost their lives serving the United States.
Fairchild said that on this day it is important to remember those who are responsible for the freedoms we now enjoy.
“Before each and every one of you leaves here today, you must make a promise, that you will never forget,” Fairchild said. “God Bless all of our departed heroes, their families, and God Bless America.”